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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

308              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

ineffaceable memory of words therefore always present—why do
we not recognize it as being useful for the humbler task of fixing
the words which represent ideas, and of analysing them into their
component sounds?

Under the influence of teaching prejudice we are not able to
separate the idea of written language from that of the function
which up till now we have assigned to it, and it seems to us that
in teaching this language to children who are still at the age
belonging to simple perceptions and mobility, there is being com-
mitted a grave psychological and didactic mistake.

But let us get rid of this prejudice and consider written
language by itself, reconstructing the psycho-physiological mechan-
ism of it. It is much simpler than the psycho-physiological
mechanism of spoken language and much more directly amenable
to education.

Writing especially is singularly easy. Let us consider dictated
writing; we have a perfect parallel with spoken language, because
to. the word heard there must correspond a motor action. It is
true that there does not exist here the mysterious hereditary rela-
tionship between the word heard and the word spoken; but the
movements involved in writing are much simpler than those neces-
sary for the spoken word and are carried out by muscles less fused
in their function than those of the vocal cords and the tongue.
They are all external and we can act directly on them in preparing
movements.

My method prepares, in a direct manner, for the movements
of the hand which writes; hence the psycho-motor impulse of the
word heard finds the motor paths already established, and manifest
itself in the act of writing like an 6 explosion'.

The real difficulty lies in the written sign; but we must con-
sider that we are here dealing with the age of perception, in which
sensations and memory, like the early associations, are just in the
characteristic expansion stage of natural development. Besides,
our children have already been prepared by various exercises of
the senses, and by the methodical building up of ideas and mental